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My First Impression Of Man United’s Gabriel Obertan


Saturday’s snoozy session between Manchester United and Blackburn Rovers turned Old Trafford into a literal Theatre of Dreams. Even the linesman sailed off to the Land of Nod, for what other excuse could there be for deeming Rovers sub Nikola Kalinic offside when he banged in Edwin Van der Sar’s deflection off a Benni McCarthy strike for a goal?

While Rovers were wronged, United dominated this game. Big Sam thought small as he chose to have his charges play negative football despite Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand’s absence. A first half United barrage went for naught, and a predictable hush fell over the Old Trafford massive. A sublime Berba volley in the 55th minute roused the crowd, momentarily silencing his boobirds. In the 87th, Anderson made up for earlier butchery with a lovely ball that Rooney turned into a beaut of goal. Too much for a tentative Rovers side to overcome, but the four minutes of added time would have been a whole lot more interesting had Kalinic’s goal stood. At the death, lil Mikey Owen could have put an emphatic stamp on the win, but he couldn’t close on the acute angle he was given.

For United fans, the larger story was the Premier League debut of Gabriel Obertan, one of Sir Alex’s summer signings made in the wake of Ronaldo’s rebuffing of red for Real. Much is expected of the Frenchman whose bald dome belies his age. On first impression he appears fleet as a fox but as goofy as a gazelle. He promptly took his first touch for a fancy sprint out of touch. Late in the match, Valencia made an incisive run from the right, dropping the ball for Owen who in turn laid it on for Obertan on a silver platter. The open goal spread before him as wide as Big Sam’s slacks, but Obertan flicked harmlessly wide.

Obertan’s biggest contribution came in letting Anderson take control on the left to set up Rooney’s goal. An inauspicious start for a lad who United may have to rely on as Chelsea continue their rampage through the league. As United forms its offensive identity post C-Ron, they will have to rely on their depth as the season approaches ‘squeaky-bum’ time.

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  1. kenneth

    November 3, 2009 at 7:39 am

    i love manchester united and also am a fan over here

  2. NewtonHeath

    November 2, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    Highlights from his first debut in the Carling Cup a few days earlier. Yes weaker opposition but still showed he’s capable:

    Expecting good things from this one once he settles into the side. Give him time.


  3. SSReporters

    November 2, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    This is a joke, right?

  4. Gaz

    November 2, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    His legs are ridiculously funny. Sooooo skinny.

    To be honest, I thought he looked pretty good for a 20 year old playing on the Manchester United first team for the first time ever.

  5. b

    November 2, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    he was nervy for sure. but he’s gonna be a good one if they handle him properly. saw him play for the france under 20s against england. easily the best player on the pitch.

    the only question is how is a talented under 20 french player not playing for arsenal??

    • Sam Davis

      November 2, 2009 at 1:14 pm

      That’s a good question. I think he had an injury spell after being loaned out to Bordeaux but he still started a few CL matches a season ago and you’d think that someone else would’ve noticed him, especially Wenger. And especially considering his playing style does kind of resemble a guy that was kind of a big hit at the Emirates.

      • b

        November 2, 2009 at 3:27 pm

        i wonder what the price tag on him was? wenger usually likes his french players to be unknown and cheap. short is always a plus, too.

  6. Sam Davis

    November 2, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    Not sure how anyone could really take issue with Obertan’s league debut. As everyone was saying the miss on the wide open net can be chalked up to nerves but he eventually settled down and looked almost exactly like the incredibly composed (almost too much so) 20 year-old that I remember from the CC and the numerous reserve matches that I’ve seen him play in.

    Certainly did more than Nani in the 20 minutes that he was on the pitch and I think Nani’s expression after being subbed off said it all, he knows that Gabby is coming for his spot (and I hope he gets it against CSKA) and later on he’ll be taking the #7 from Mickey.

  7. shahymix

    November 2, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    Obertan will be one of the best in MU ……

    • Gaz

      November 2, 2009 at 1:08 pm

      I hope you’re right. If he’s one of the best, we’ll be beating you for years to come.


  8. Leeboy

    November 2, 2009 at 11:32 am

    I was at this game and it was the one of the most mediocre United performances I have seen. The whole team lacked urgency, and the first 30 minutes were especially turgid. Obertan looked good coming on, despite missing a sitter, and had blistering pace down the wing, but you have to remember that he wasn’t trusted to tee Rooney up for the goal. What everyone noticed was how skinny his legs are! One bad tackle could do a lot a damage to this lad.

  9. coachie ballgames

    November 2, 2009 at 11:05 am

    Points taken. Nani has never quite developed into a team player. With his fancy footwork and over-dribbling I feel like he would dominate in the Mexican league.

  10. Nnanna

    November 2, 2009 at 10:26 am

    Obertan is definitely no worse than Nani

  11. JAKL

    November 2, 2009 at 9:58 am

    In the 20 minutes he was on the pitch, he looked better than Nani did for the first 70. He had a couple of bad touches that can be chalked up to nerves. I’d like to see him get a shot at starting over Nani to see what he can do with more time.

  12. Dave G

    November 2, 2009 at 9:50 am

    He was much better midweek in the carling cup…showed some nerves on saturday…shades of Gary Birtles, no?

  13. Bishopville Red

    November 2, 2009 at 8:15 am

    Hmmm… what’s that old line? “An infinite deal of nothing”? Sums up the article perfectly.

  14. Why83

    November 2, 2009 at 8:02 am

    are you for real…. He done more saturday than nani has done all year…. He will be a great asset to the team. I thought he should great prospects in his 30 minutes on the pitch

  15. Richard the Red (Devil)

    November 2, 2009 at 6:43 am

    Wow, a shocker!! Slagging off a United player! Give the kid some credit, only 20 years old and I thought he had a very good debut with United. It’s true that he missed a couple fo wide open chances but I’m sure nerves had something to say for that. I look forward to watching him grow as a player in the future.

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